Last week VeChain announced it would become a long-term partner of mixed martial arts organization UFC. Sports Business Journal reported that the deal is worth up to $100 million over at least five years. It also announced an NFT deal with DraftKings, where the tokens will be used in fantasy games.
The blockchain and crypto sector has been a huge windfall for UFC, which already has several crypto sponsorships. Its biggest deal so far is the partnership inked last year with crypto exchange Crypto.com in a sponsorship deal that CNBC reported was worth $175 million over ten years, and since then, they’ve launched NFTs together.
But that’s just one of multiple NFT relationships. DraftKings was already UFCs “Official Sportsbook and Daily Fantasy Partner” in the United States and Canada. The latest deal extends this to Reignmakers UFC gamified NFTs. In other words, fans start collecting the NFTs, which can later be used in the fantasy game. Until then, the NFTs will provide digital and physical rewards tied to UFC events.
UFC got involved in the blockchain sector early in 2020 and partnered with Dapper Labs for NFTs of video moments, which launched in January this year as UFC Strike. That makes three NFT deals. It’s worth highlighting that the UFC Strike deal was signed more than a year before Dapper’s NBA Top Shot took off, which ignited the mainstream NFT sector and the link between sports and crypto.
Also in 2020, UFC signed a deal with Socios for fan tokens, the fungible crypto tokens.
Circling back to the latest announcement, VeChain is not the most obvious Official Layer 1 Blockchain Partner to UFC, given that the blockchain has an enterprise focus. VeChain has executed projects with the likes of BMW and Walmart and counts DNV, the certification and assurance firm, as a major partner and investor.
To target corporates, one might expect a partnership for golf, tennis or football rather than fighting. While UFC makes a lot of sense as a partner of Socios, Crypto.com or Dapper Labs, VeChain is more of a conundrum. That’s unless it aims to target consumer crypto investors or broaden its focus to include consumers.